The Burke Mtn Ski Resort is closed for the season but the skiing looks to be about as good as it gets. Dogman and I found a 4ft deep snowpack that was more than bombproof - you couldn't post-hole and jamming your ice axe in only got it about 3 inches into the base. The base wasn't crust - it was firm (you could drag an ice axe tip through it for self-arrest, which we tested and in some cases had to implement.
We had quite a snow this morning so there was about 3 inches of new snow on top of the established base.
This was the fastest I've ever gone in a sled, by a long shot. We had helmets, face masks and goggles and used ice axes for the self-arrest for the times we popped out of the sleds. The posture we chose was seated, legs over the sides with boots in the snow for steering and the axe in hands across chest in standard 'prepare to die' configuration.
The climb up was about 45 minutes to the parking lot just below the 3267' summit. The total elevation gain was roughly 1200' (it's about 2000' from the base lodge to the top of the main lift).
Our first time down was hysterically fast but fraught with momentary panic at the high speeds, sled instability and sheer excitement. The descent featured 3 or 4 stops, either accidental or of the 'stop-at-the-edge-and-look-over' variety. This is a serious descent.
The second time up we climbed to the top of the Poma lift, probably 150' vertical short of the parking lot. This is the top of the 'steep' part. We were determined to make the run to the base in one continuous ride, now that we had the experience. I ended up wiping out mid-run as I began approaching a gentle turn in the trail but was unable to manage migrating to the right. With about 100m to the trees my efforts to drift right made the sled go into a tailspin and I got ejected. Rather than self-arrest I shot downhill on my back (gortex whistling) until I came to a stop. The sled shot over me but was arrested by the ankle leash I had fastened it with.
The rest was done in a continuous run.
- The speed. Nothing like it.
- The snow kicked up by my boots formed a massive cloud around my and covered me, packing snow into my mouth (i had to chew it to get rid of it) and into my nostrils. It was good snowball snow, but as we descended got heavier. Toward the bottom, instead of merely crashing into my face, it was like a mashed-potato food-fight and I had to clear my goggles with a quick glove-wipe about every 5 seconds.
- The speed.
- The soft texture of the snow. No bruises, injuries, sprains or tender tailbones.
- The speed.